Baking Business talks to 2010 L A Judge winner, Ashley Toth about creating a career through hard work and study.
If he has his way, Victorian baker and 2010 L A Judge winner, Ashley Toth will soon be baking hot bread on the world’s coldest, driest and windiest continent.
“I want to work in Antartica,” Mr Toth explained to Baking Business.
“At research stations they have positions for 20 different jobs, but one of them is a cook and you can do six to 16 months down there. I don’t know why, it’s just the idea has always appealed to me so I’m going to apply for the 2012 season,” he said.
“That’s just me being me.”
The adventurous or, as he admits, possibly “foolhardy” 23-year-old is buoyed with enthusiasm since winning the prestigious L A Judge award last year. Regardless of the outcome of the South Pole expedition, Mr Toth still has a cool $3500 he can put towards overseas study and is eyeing two weeks in San Francisco followed by a six-week course in Germany next year.
“There’s heaps of options. You have to be willing to go out and look, I suppose, and travel,” he said.
“(I want to) study baking overseas and just get my name out there even further.”
The Bakers Delight Burwood Heights baker has a hunger for knowledge and a keen interest in discovering new types of bread.
“I love bread. Everywhere I go, if I see new bread I’ll buy it to try and talk to people who like talking about it. When I meet people who are interested, I love to talk about bread,” Mr Toth said.
“(It’s) definitely a huge part of my life.”
Mr Toth attributes continual hard work and study to helping him win the competition. Starting sales work in a bakery at 15, he eventually moved to the back of the bakery and began his apprenticeship at 18. He has worked in a number of different Bakers Delights over the years, sometimes having to “help out mates” on his days off. After learning about the L A Judge competition in 2009, he decided to have a go and began preparing by visiting a range of bakeries, such as working a night at Phillippa’s under BIAV president, Andrew O’Hara.
“He did impress me with his competence and passion for baking and generally he is really nice guy so it was great to see him win L A Judge,” Mr O’Hara said.
After winning the L A Judge competition it reinforced the importance of study and a greater knowledge of ingredients. Mr Toth is currently studying Food Science at TAFE and learning how ingredients react with one another to fully maximise the baking experience.
Bakers Delight Burwood Heights owner, Chris Orlando has played a vital role in his success.
“He’s probably the most supportive guy I know. I went up to him for whatever reason and said, ‘I need to do this or I need to do that’, (and) he supports me 100 per cent, regardless of how it effects me at work,” Mr Toth said.
Mr Orlando was happy for Mr Toth to take time off to visit a flour mill in Adelaide or a local yeast factory. The owner left his business between shifts to attend the L A Judge award dinner and watch Mr Toth win.
“We have very few staff members, basically it’s him, myself and an apprentice. He worked in the morning, flew up to the competition dinner and then flew back and went back to work. He’s very supportive,” Mr Toth said.
The award winner has enjoyed the last year since winning and has found the experience rewarding.
“I don’t think the industry itself has changed too much since I started. I think it’s more my expectations of the industry and how I perceive it has changed a lot since I first started,” he said.
“It’s changed a lot for me, especially since winning the competition. I see a lot more possibilities now and just so many more options of what can be done in the industry.
Mr Toth’s advise for young bakers thinking about future L A Judge competitions is simple.
“Definitely have a go, because whether you’re chosen or not, any experience that you can do will help immensely. It’s definitely worth something to try for. Even if you don’t make it, the fact that you’ve tried and put your name out there people start to notice you, regardless of whether your chosen or not,” he said.